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New Student Health and Wellness Center to open in May following delays

Executive and Medical Director for USF Student Health Services Joseph Puccio said the new building will be better equipped to meet the high demand of students due to its significant increase in counselors, exam rooms and expansion of the psychiatry department. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

There is an end in sight for the new Student Health and Wellness Center as it nears its delayed opening of mid-May. The building was initially expected to reach completion last fall.

Utilizing support from Student Government, the $27.4 million project is set to replace the current Student Wellness Center, located on the first floor of the Marshall Student Center (MSC). Executive and Medical Director for USF Student Health Services (SHS) Joseph Puccio said Cannon Design and Barr&Barr/Horus are the teams leading the design and construction of the three story building.

Approximately 47,000 square feet, the new building triples the size of the current wellness center, which stands at 12,500 square feet.

Previously known as “The Student Wellness Center,” the name has been modified to “The Student Health and Wellness Center.” This decision was made to better reflect the services being provided, according to Puccio.

Vacated locations will be repurposed by the university to host other student services, though no formal decisions have been made regarding the use of the vacated SHS space, according to Puccio.

The new building will encompass a wide variety of health services for students including medical and urgent care, sexual health and gynecology, physical therapy, dermatology, psychiatry and behavioral health.

Notably different features from the former wellness center are the additional opportunities that will be offered for medical transportation to support students experiencing serious injuries or illness, according to Puccio.

Training opportunities for students within the medical fields, such as public health and nursing, are also services Puccio said would be offered with a focus on gaining hands-on experience in the professional workplace.

In addition, there will be an expanded psychiatry department with more counselors and psychiatrists available to allow for more student evaluations each day, according to Puccio. He wrote that the aim is to make the services more accessible and accommodating as the student population at USF continues to increase to over 50,000.

To accommodate the high demand of students needing services, the building will have more exam rooms and counselors in all departments allowing for an increase in efficiency and student evaluations each day, according to Puccio.

The construction of the building is something Puccio said furthers the university’s goal in sustainability.

“During the design phase of the new building, being environmentally friendly was a key principle…As the building’s construction enters its final phase, it is on track for certification as Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver for sustainability,” Puccio said.

Earning a certification as LEED silver would mean the building would be awarded the third highest certification by the Green Business Certification Inc. due to its contributions in addressing sustainability standards like energy, water, carbon and materials, according to Puccio.

As construction nears completion, the USF marketing team plans to offer tours of the new building for the first few weeks, according to Puccio. He said scavenger hunts will also be hosted in order to create a wider outreach and awareness campaign for the variety of services being offered.